Welcome to adobo-down-under!

Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ice buko (coconut pops)

We're feeling the last of the summer breeze and the last couple of days have been grey and wet and humid.  Exacly the summer I grew up with back home. 

In the tropics.  Philippines.  Where I grew up.  

I spent most of my childhood in two places.  Subic Olongapo up north from Manila and Quezon which is south of Manila, where my grandparents were.  We'd be shuttled to the south during school holidays and back home after two months.  From the city to the country and back again. 

Two different worlds here, as Subic is monopolised by PX goods (PX meant Post Exchange or import restricted items from the US).  This was back in the day when the Subic was one of the Naval hubs in the Philippines.  While Quezon brings back memories of fresh, from-paddock-to-plate kind of food.  

There's a lot to look back to with childhood and what we ate back then and how food and consumers have evolved over the course of less than 20 years.  Compared to today's generation where there are so much variety and healthier options, one would think how we survived with canned food and loads of sugar in everything from cereals to juices -I'm thinking Tang orange juice here.  But not all my food memories were packed in tins and boxes and came from the freezer.  

Spending the holidays with my grandparents meant eating food from the local market - produce, meat and poultry grown by local farmers (back in the day when organic simply meant fresh, no regulations or certifying bodies), coffee beans grounded right there and coconut juice doesn't come in a tetra pack.  Trips to the market with my grandmother was always a treat where my prize for helping is a bag of freshly boiled peanuts, a glass of "palamig" (usually coconut juice with fresh coconut strips and some gulaman).

And afternoon play at the local playground meant waiting for the street vendors set up their kiosks in the afternoon offering the day's treats - and this ice buko (coconut) pops is just one of the many.  Ice buko (coconut) pops is a creamy, milk-based ice popsicle with some fresh coconut flesh and sometimes with sweetened adzuki beans (red mung beans).  They're the best treat after a day of hide-and-seek-running-climbing-trees-hop-scotch-outdoor-play-etc.

This recipe is inspired by one of my fave Filipino bloggers Jun Blog's -  ice buko with sweetened adzuki.

Thanks to Sophie from The Sticky and Sweet for hosting this month's theme at the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop.    Check out her Mars Bar Slice Cupcakes!    This was a fun theme, reminiscing about food from my childhood and the challenge to recreate them here.    I can't wait to see what the rest have created from their childhood memories. 


2  330ml tetra packs organic coconut water*

1 397g can condensed milk

1 cup coconut cream

1 pack 494g shredded young coconut


Prepare ice pop moulds.
Or if you don't own one, prepare plastic cups and food-grade popsicles sticks.

Spoon a tablespoon each of the shredded coconut into the cups/moulds.

In a large bowl or a large measuring cup, mix thoroughly the coconut water, condensed milk and coconut cream.

Pour the coconut-cream mixture into the cups.

Place in the freezer until slightly set, about 30 minutes to an hour.

Place the popsicle sticks into the cups/moulds.

Freeze for another 4-6hours until solid.

Tips and tricks:

* You can use fresh young coconut juice bought from Asian shops or your local fruit and veg grocer.  And use 2 and half cups;

* I used C Coconut Water for convenience.  And after comparing the other brands available, this was the best I could get my hands on.  Most of the brands I found locally had sugar in them.  Check out the comparision review made by Coconut Water Australia to help you decide which brand to use. 

* If you can't get your hands on food-grade wooden popsicle sticks, you can also use wooden cutlery.  I actually used a wooden fork because I like the sticks are wider.

* To remove the popsicles from the plastic cups, place the popsicle under running water until loose.

Now, Sophie has got me reminiscing other things besides food from my childhood.  
I asked my Filipino friends and family on Facebook and what chlidhood food they miss growing up, and the response was just classic!  Here's what most of them are craving in no particular order:

4. Texas  and Tarzan bubble gum
5. Ice candy - homemade ice pops using fresh fruits pureed with juice
6.  Curly tops;

How about the days when blank cassette tapes the means to get the latest pop music via the radio.  Waiting for my fave song to play on the radio and pressing record.

Typewriters.  Carbon paper.  Aerosol hair sprays (gah!!!). Shoulder pads. Casey Kasem's Top 40. MTV. Duran Duran.  Sony Walkman. The Donny and Marie show. ....  Hahaha!  I should stop!  I'm giving away too much!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Oreo brownies for the school lunch box

Aah. The school lunch box.  What's in it today?   The school lunch box is a tricky thing you see, especially when schools are "nut-free" and all my girls just really want for is anything with Nutella.  Either that, or they'd rather have rice with anything (even hotdogs) than a ham and cheese sandwich.  Yes, I have raised them well into the Filipino food culture.

The new school year has started and we are back again into routine.  Morning lunch box prep, homework, assessments, piano lessons, cello, sports, etc etc etc.  Although we have minimised the girls out-of-school activities, I find that the start of the new school year always brings unnecessary anxiety.  Are the lunch boxes packed, water bottles, snacks, fruits.... do you have your library bag?, did I sign that permission note?, did we check head for lice? (yes - the most important of them all!).  Did we?  Did I?  .....

Sometimes I get organised and prep the lunches in the evenings and then get that extra few minutes of sleep in the mornings.  Most of the time, I open the fridge door in the morning and prep what's on offer.  Sometimes its a jam sandwich, or a cup of rice with what's left over from dinner, at odd times the girls will have some onigiri because I felt like I had superpowers for the day.

I drool at lunch box bento boxes prepared by other mums who I follow on IG like Nami from Just One Cookbook.  I want to, but at the same time, I don't.  Hahaha!  With 4 girls going back to school, I don't think I have enough superpowers to do them all equally attractive and bento-box like.

While I don't prepare bento-box like lunchboxes, I do love going back to their favourites and adapting them to the school's nut-free policy. This is a favourite brownie recipe with the nuts replaced with Oreos.  Now who doesn't love Oreos?


200g dark chocolate, chopped

125g butter, chopped into cubes

1 1/4 cups or 280g caster sugar

3/4 cup or 115g plain flour

1/4 cup or 30g unsweetened cocoa powder

150g Oreos (1 foil pack from the double-pack box), roughly chopped

3 eggs, slightly beaten

 3-4 packs mini Oreos for topping


Pre-heat over to 180 degrees C. Line a 28cm X 18cm brownie pan with non stick baking paper.

Put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool slightly, 5-10 minutes. 
Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder and Oreos in a large bowl. 

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the eggs and chocolate mixture until just combined.

Pour into the prepared pan, and top with the mini Oreos (as many or as little as you want) slightly pushing them into the batter.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until moist crumbs cling to a skewer when inserted into the centre.


Tips and tricks:

* Brownies are very versatile.  You can add any kind of nuts or leave them plain. 

*  Instead of Oreos, you can also top them with salted pretzels, Ferrero Rochers, Reese's cups - which I've seen from IG feeds.

* Here's another tip I learned from TAFE when lining square pans.  Cut the edges diagonally, and then slid them side by side to fit the pan.  No need to cut a square and line the sides. 

And so 7 weeks more before the next school holiday, but I'm not counting.  While I surrender back to the chaos and regularity that is our life, I also love sitting back and enjoying the peace and quiet when I'm not working and have the day to myself - which days have been filled with physical activity: walking and badminton and yes, more time in the kitchen to cook and bake.

Now, what's for the lunch box tomorrow?


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